Friday, January 23, 2009

Whisk Wednesdays—Poulet en Cocotte Grand-Mère (Braised Chicken Casserole with Bacon, Mushrooms, Potatoes, and Onions)

Poulet en Cocotte Grand-Mère (Braised Chicken Casserole with Bacon, Mushrooms, Potatoes, and Onions)Humble roast chicken was on the menu last week, but even though I made it while my mom was visiting, I didn't have time to write up my post in-between shopping, eating out and seeing movies. So here it is more than a week late. However, we all enjoyed eating it.
"A simple roasted chicken really satisfies that innermost desire of food.
It represents that place in my life I'm most comfortable."
Thomas Keller
According to Barbara Kafka's Roasting-A Simple Art, roasting means food that's cooked with high heat and some fat (either from the meat or added to the pot). If the heat isn't hot enough, the food steams in its own juices.

I rinsed, dried, trussed, sprinkled (with salt and pepper), doused (with butter and oil), flavored (with bay and thyme in the cavity), and browned the chicken on top of the stove on each side. Then roasted it in a 350˚F oven for 45 minutes covered.

Cook's Illustrated, eGullet, and Thomas Keller suggest cooking it at a high-heat (450˚F), so I'll have to give that a try next time.
"You can measure a chef by how well they do a simple roast chicken."
— Anthony Bourdain in Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
While the chicken was roasting, I prepared the Grand-mère part of this dish, which is the garnish of bacon, mushrooms, potatoes, and onions. We covered grand-mère as a garnish in class 3, but this time the garnish came together better. Each item is cooked separately and then thrown together at the end. Warning: This means lots of pans and dishes!

Pan #1: Pearl onions. Peeling the pearl onions took a lot of time. (I've been told there exists bags of already peeled pearl onions in the freezer section of some grocery stores. I've yet to see that here in Ottawa.) After peeling the onions, I covered them with water, added a pinch of salt and a knob of butter and cooked them over high heat until the water had evaporated. Then I continued cooking them until they turned a golden brown.

Pan #2 and #3: Potatoes. While the onions were cooking, I practiced turning potatoes, which also took a lot of time! Then, I put them in a pan of cold salted water, put the lid on and brought them to a boil. After blanching the potatoes for a few minutes, I fried them in Pan #3 with 2 tablespoons of butter until golden brown and al dente.

Pan #4: Mushrooms. In yet another pan, I fried the mushrooms in butter and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

Next up was the bacon. Although the recipe called for blanching it to remove some of the smokiness (which would have meant another pan), I just draped the slices over the chicken half-way through cooking the bird and then left the cover off until the juices ran clear.
"Granny would undoubtedly have cooked everything in the same pot, but professionals cook the vegetables separately to perfection and then simmer them with the chicken for only a short time before serving. A bit complicated for Granny, perhaps, but she would most certainly have approved of the taste."
Le Cordon Bleu at Home
When the chicken was cooked through, I let it sit under aluminum foil while finishing the sauce. This ensured that the juices were redistributed before carving.

I poured off the sauce and removed any fat. Then, I returned the sauce to the pan and deglazed it with ¼ cup water. I added the chicken back in, along with the onions, potatoes and mushrooms and let this mixture cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes were cooked through. A sprinkle of chopped parsley and it was ready to serve.


Serves 6

Poulet en Cocotte Grand-Mère (Braised Chicken Casserole with Bacon, Mushrooms, Potatoes, and Onions) mise en place
4½ pound chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 sprig thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
24 pearl onions
2½ pounds waxy potatoes (red or white)
1 pound button or quartered large mushrooms, trimmed, rinsed, and dried
10 ounces slab bacon, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

You can find the recipe for Poulet en Cocotte Grand-Mère (Braised Chicken Casserole with Bacon, Mushrooms, Potatoes, and Onions) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with their recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Tasting Notes
This was an incredibly delicious roast chicken. It was tender, the sauce was perfect, and the vegetables around it were tasty. I've made roast chicken (and bought several rotisserie roast chickens from the deli), but this was the best I've ever tasted.
"Poultry is for the cook what canvas is for the painter."
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Videos and other roast chickens
Cook's Illustrated's America's Test Kitchen high roast chicken - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Blue Kitchen's Pure and simple: Roast chicken
wrightfood's Rosemary Roast Chicken

My Bucket List
  • Dine on roast chicken at Bouchon.

    . . . . . . . . . .

    Running total: $1,003.98 + $34.87 = $1,038.85

    Butter used so far: 9 pounds, 8 tablespoons

    . . . . . . . . . .
    ::Whisk Wednesdays::
    We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.
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    pam said...

    Since I hate using lots of pots and pans, this probably won't be on my list. I am so lazy. I love all the quotes and it definitely looks fantastic!

    Anonymous said...

    Wow. Looks so delicious. Beautiful potatoes! In France they sell pre-tourned potatoes in a package. Nothing better than a simple, perfectly roasted chicken with veg.

    diva said...

    the garnish on this chicken is fantastic shari! the skin on the chicken is perfectly roasted too. makes me lust for my very own roasting tray of poulet en cocotte Grand-Mère too. right now! :) x

    Anonymous said...

    This looks so wonderful...I just want to make it again! I used small button mushrooms and they sort of disappeared in the cooking, so next time, I want to use larger mushroom caps...your whole dish looks wonderful! I really liked this recipe.

    CookiePie said...

    That looks amazing - truly hearty and satisfying!

    Lisa Pogue said...

    The mere site of the title of this recipe caught my attention. Chicken, potatoes, mushrooms AND onions, oh my. Hubby will like it just because it has bacon I think. I HAVE to try this. It looks like a cooks dream dish!!

    Joie de vivre said...

    I love the quotes you've included along with your recipe. What a neat idea!

    Suzie said...

    Shari - this looks fantastic. Roast chicken is my absolute favourite, and I am always looking for new versions. Can't wait to try this. PS Your wonderful package was waiting for me when we arrived home from overseas this week. I'll be thinking of you when I try the syrup tomorrow! Please let me know if you need some more Milo for the winter!

    RecipeGirl said...

    This dish is simply gorgeous! Comforting. Love it!

    Anonymous said...

    Oh! I'm roasting a chicken for Sunday dinner. I was going to do a very plain version, but I think the potatoes, mushrooms and bacon are calling me! Thank you.

    Rachael Hutchings said...

    Oh my goodness this looks fantastic! Mmmm...this recipe is going in the stack of recipes stuck on my fridge to make next month--YUM!!

    Colleen said...

    This looks delicious - a lot of great flavors together. I am always up for a challenge if someone else is going the dishes so I will have to try this!

    Anonymous said...

    This looks amazing. It sounds like a perfect weekend dinner dish.

    Jan said...

    Now that does look good. I'm not working this week so I will give that a go.
    Slight problem - my husband does not like mushrooms (strange man)......So I'll just have those all to myself then!

    Unknown said...

    Yum! What great dish. I would agree this is definitely a weekend meal to be savored. One thing I would add is all natural chickens. Coleman makes great chicken that is hormone free, antibiotic free and tastes better than anything. Check them out at: They also make amazing bacon products too!

    Stacia said...

    Thank you for this! I made it the other night and it was phenominal!
    I hope you dont mind, but i posted a link to this on my blog - - let me know if you would like me to remove it! :)

    billkal said...

    I just checked my America's Test Kitchen Slow and Easy. They like 250 degrees for Chicken en Cocotte. Sweat the aromatics as you brown the chicken. Breast up on the lowest oven rack. Maybe 90 to 110 minutes. Thighs to 175 instant read.

    450 degrees would be for an uncovered roast with a crispy skin.

    Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

    billkal - Hope your chicken turned out! :)